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Township aims to go green

Oct 05, 2012 05:52AM ● Published by Community News Service

By Carolyn Steber

The Green Team, a subcommittee of the township’s environmental commission, has been working hard since its inception earlier this year to make Bordentown green and sustainably certified.

Jill Popko, committeewoman and liaison between the environmental commission and the township board, has been helping plan several projects in an effort to achieve bronze level status in the state certification program.

To become bronze certified, a town must score 150 points by completing sustainable and environmentally conscience projects, said Roger Plew, chairman of both the enviromental comission and the green team.

The team is currently working on a project that is worth 20 points. After receiving a grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commission, the members began the long process of updating Bordentown’s environmental recourse inventory with help from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. This inventory tracks the changes with all natural recourses in town including birds, plants, trees, water ways, open space and recreational areas.

The inventory was last done 10 years ago. It helps the township see what has been developed and what has been lost, Popko said.

The team is also in the process of starting a program that will ensure all computers in municipal buildings are shut down at night.

“It amounts to dollars, it saves energy, it’s good for so many multiple reasons,” Popko said.

Projects that have already been completed include a community clean up day, a community paper shredding day that resulted in thousands of pounds of paper, energy audits and more.

Bordentown currently has 45 points. Popko hopes to achieve bronze within the next year, but says that more volunteers are needed to help complete projects at a faster rate.

“Every little bit helps. Don’t be scared away if you don’t have time,” Popko said. “I would really like for people to get involved so it will go a lot faster.”

Popko says it’s the simple things like this that add up, from helping to clean up litter from a community park, to signing up to commit to using more energy efficient light bulbs in your home. All of these contributions score the town points and take it one step closer to sustainability.

The benefits of sustainability go beyond just being environmentally conscience. According to Popko, it also adds to the town’s appeal, making it more inviting for new businesses. Sustainability also helps the town save money.

“People save money on their taxes. When we turn off our lights, when we unplug our phone jacks at night, or any of these simple tasks not only save money, but in the long run it will save the township money,” she said. “It’s not about being environmentally conscious; it also saves the township a lot of money. It’s win win.”

The Green Team has reached out to students in the environmental club at the high school as well as the local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts to get them involved. Team members also will be speaking to local senior citizens about what they can do to help.

Plew hopes that the scouts can come on board as green team members. He hopes they will soon be able to create a community garden where the scouts can grow vegetables to sell as a fundraiser for their troops.

“My vision is they would help plant the garden, help maintain and water it, weed it, et cetera,” Plew said.

Plew is also beginning the planning process for the team’s most extensive project yet. Starting in 2013, he hopes to get 110 families pledged to complete four quarterly challenges and one yearly challenge. The small quarterly challenges would include changing recycling habits or changing light bulb usage. The big year challenge might be creating a family compost pile. Residents would then report their changes in amount of recycling or utility bills.

This challenge would help township residents to “reduce waste, increase recycle” and it would also earn 10 more points towards sustainability.

“The word sustainable couldn’t be more perfect. It’s better for environment, better for business, better for taxes, it crosses so many lines,” Popko said.

To get involved with the Green Team, email Plew at rpjersey47@yahoo.com or call (609) 291-0994.

Community, News environment green

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